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New Mexico Senate Bill 48 and House Bill 50 Will Criminalize Private Firearms Sales and Transfers

Saturday, February 11, 2017

New Mexico Senate Bill 48 and House Bill 50 Will Criminalize Private Firearms Sales and Transfers

The National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action opposes both New Mexico's Senate Bill 48 and House Bill 50.  Senate Bill 48 by Sen. Richard Martinez (D-Espanola) and House Bill 50 by Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard (D-Los Alamos) would criminalize private firearms transfer in New Mexico, while doing nothing to make the state a safer place. Everywhere these so-called universal background check laws have been imposed, they cost law-abiding citizens time, money, and freedom.  

The NRA opposes both New Mexico's Senate Bill 48 and House Bill 50.

The branding of these bills by the media and former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's national gun-control organization Everytown, which has been lobbying heavily for their passage, has been misleading and deceptive.  They have falsely touted this as an effort to simply close the non-existent “gun show loophole” when, in fact, the words "gun show" are never even used in the proposed legislation and it is far more expansive than they would have you believe.

SB 48 and HB 50 would prohibit you from selling firearms from your personal collection to any distant relatives, long-time friends, business partners, neighbors, or fellow gun club members without government permission. 

The bills would criminalize nearly all private firearm sales between individuals, regardless of where those transactions take place, and require them to be conducted through a licensed dealer involving extensive federal paperwork, background check and payment of an undetermined fee.  Licensed dealers will have to maintain the paperwork recording these transfers for twenty years.  Limited exceptions are only made for immediate family members, federal firearms licensees and law enforcement agencies, executors or administrators of estates and trusts, or police officers, military personnel, and licensed security guards acting in the course of their official duties.  

SB 48 and HB 50 also restrict firearm transfers—including gifts, loans, exchanges and other temporary changes in possession of a firearm, not just gun sales (which involve an exchange of currency or a permanent change of ownership or title).  House Bill 50 has been amended and its provisions regarding transfers are now slightly different than Senate Bill 48, as explained below.

Senate Bill 48: In an attempt to garner support for this misguided proposal, advocates excluded a limited number of "temporary" firearm transfers from the acts' provisions: transfers necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm, those taking place exclusively at shooting ranges, exclusively while hunting or trapping, exclusively during an organized competition or performance, or any time the transferor remains present the entire time the transfer is taking place.  These exemptions are poorly-worded, confusing and inadequate.  Examples of commonplace activities that would be criminalized under the bills:

  • A man loaning his girlfriend or fiancée his handgun for self-protection when homes or apartments in her neighborhood have been burglarized;
  • A member of the military who gets deployed overseas and wants to store personal effects, including his or her firearms, with a trusted friend;
  • Someone wishing to borrow their business colleague’s firearm when going on a hunting trip, to the local shooting range or to shoot on BLM land when the colleague cannot accompany him or her on the excursion.
  • Working ranch employees possessing and transporting ranch-owned rifles in vehicles or on their person.

SB 48 also appears to require that the return of loaned firearms to their original owners be conducted through a licensed dealer, with the accompanying federal paperwork, background check and payment of an undetermined fee—even if the original transfer is exempt from such a requirement. 

House Bill 50: At the sponsor’s request, the anti-gun members of the House Judiciary Committee adopted a substitute for the original bill, which deletes all the exceptions for temporary firearm transfers found in the original bill and, instead, requires a trip to an FFL, completion of federal paperwork, background check and payment of an undetermined fee on any transfer that is for longer than a period of five days.  So, in the above scenarios, if you loaned your girlfriend or fiancee a handgun for protection for more than five days, if you were deployed for a period of time longer than five days and wanted to leave your guns with a friend, if you borrowed your buddy’s rifle to go on a hunting trip for more than five days, if you gave your employee a shotgun to carry around while working a full week at your ranch – these transfers would all be subject to state and federal regulation.

These proposals will tax scarce law enforcement resources, cost law-abiding citizens time, money and freedom, and they will do nothing to stop criminals.



More Information About "Universal" Background Checks

So-Called "Universal" Background Check Laws Don't Work

As New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg moves across the country seeking to impose his unpopular gun control agenda, his latest target is New Mexico. Bloomberg-backed lawmakers have pre-filed legislation in Santa Fe for the upcoming session that would criminalize most private firearms sales transfers in New Mexico.  So-called “universal background check” bills do not keep guns out of the hands of criminals. Instead, these laws turn law-abiding gun owners in criminals for commonplace activities.

Recent Election Results Refute Gun Control Advocates’ Claim That Large Percentages of Voters Support Such Proposals. 

Voters in Maine defeated an Everytown-backed November ballot initiative to impose so-called "universal" background checks on private gun sales and transfers in that state, and Nevada voters only approved a similar measure by a fraction of one percent of votes despite Bloomberg and Everytown spending twenty million dollars on that effort.  Nevada’s poorly written background check law has been deemed unenforceable by the Nevada Attorney General.

Law Enforcement Believes These Are Ineffective Crime Control Proposals. 

In April of 2013, PoliceOne conducted a national survey of 15,000 active and retired law enforcement officers of all ranks and department sizes on the topics of gun & crime control.  Nearly 80 percent said that a prohibition on private non-dealer transfers of firearms between individuals would not reduce violent crime.  That’s why the New Mexico Sheriffs Association is vigorously opposing both SB 48 and HB 50.  

Leading Criminologists and Economists Agree That Background Check Schemes Won’t Reduce Crime. 

In his book, “The War on Guns”, Professor John Lott points out that states with these background checks experienced a post-2000 increase of 15 percent in per capita rates of mass public shooting fatalities.  They also saw a 38 percent increase in the rate of injury.  Many academic studies have failed to produce evidence that background checks on private purchases actually make a difference in reducing violent crimes such as murder and robbery.  In fact, murders are 49 percent higher and robberies are 75 percent higher in states with expanded background checks.

Current Firearms Laws Are Not Being Enforced. 

Federal law requires that anyone buying a gun from a federal firearm licensed dealer must go through a background check regardless of whether then gun is purchased.  Dealers selling at gun shows or online must conduct a background check on all buyers.  According to a 2012 report to the U.S. Department of Justice, more than 70,000 people were turned down for a gun purchase in 2010 because they didn’t clear a background check.  Only 62 of those cases -- or just 0.089% -- were prosecuted.  Enforcement percentages have not increased or improved in any significant way since then.  Existing laws are not even being enforced and proponents are calling for expanding background checks to cover private firearms transactions.  

Gun Shows—A Favorite Target of the Gun Control Crowd—Aren’t A Source of Crime Guns.  

A U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics survey of state prison inmates who had used or possessed firearms in the course of committing their crimes found that 77 percent acquired their firearms from “street/illegal sources” or “friends and family.”  This includes theft of firearms, black market purchases of stolen firearms and straw purchases.  0.8 percent obtained a firearm at a gun show. 

These Measures Will Lead To Gun Registration.

A January 2013 internal U.S. Department of Justice memorandum summarizing so-called "gun violence" prevention strategies stated that the effectiveness of "universal background checks" depends on "requiring gun registration."  That is the ultimate goal of the gun control advocates pushing these misguided, ineffective schemes.

Frequently Asked Questions About "Universal" Background Checks

What are background checks? 

In 1993, as part of the Brady Act, the federal government created the National Instant Background Check System (NICS) to prevent felons and other dangerous individuals from acquiring firearms. The law requires all federally licensed firearms dealers to conduct a background check on all buyers.  

What are so-called "universal" background checks? 

Gun control advocates coined the term “universal background checks” to give the false impression that they would prevent felons and other prohibited persons from acquiring firearms. But criminals  avoid background checks by stealing their guns or getting them from criminal associates. Instead of protecting the public, “universal” background check laws criminalize virtually every private firearms transfer made by law-abiding gun owners. They force friends, co-workers, neighbors and in some cases relatives to go to a federally licensed gun dealer, pay a fee, and fill out intrusive paperwork to simply share a firearm. So-called "universal" background checks cost law-abiding citizens time, money, and freedom. 

What about the so-called gun show loophole? 

For years, gun control advocates have perpetuated the myth that criminals avoid background checks by getting their guns at gun shows. 

The fact is, the Bureau of Justice Statistics surveys state prison inmates, about how and where they got the guns they used in the crimes for which they were imprisoned. In 1991, 1997, and 2004 less than one percent of those inmates reported getting their guns from gun shows. 

Going back to the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, in not a single cases did a perpetrator buy his weapon through an "unregulated private sale," through "the Internet," or in "the parking lot at a gun show."  

How do so-called "universal" background checks affect law-abiding gun owners?

Many gun owners’ commonplace activities are criminalized under “universal” background check laws. 

If a man wanted to loan his girlfriend or even fiancé his gun for self-protection while he is away, the two would first have to go to a licensed gun dealer, pay a fee, and fill out paperwork before he could legally share his gun with her. And then, when he returns and wants the gun back, they would both need to go through the same process again.

If a member of the military gets deployed overseas and wants to store his guns with a trusted friend, they would both have to go through those same government mandates and pay the same government fees.

If someone wants to loan their rifle to a co-worker for a hunting trip, they would be subjected to these same fees and mandates.

Do so-called "universal" background checks stop criminals and make the public safer?

No.  In his new book, “The War on Guns, Arming Yourself Against Gun Control Lies,” economist John Lott, Jr, finds that economists and criminologists alike consistently find no benefit from background checks. From his book: 

Eighteen other states either currently have universal background checks or had them at some point during the past three decades. . . . When you examine all the states, there is no evidence to be found that these background checks affect murder rates.

[U]sing data from all the states from 1977 to 2005, I found that these expanded background checks produced a very small and statistically insignificant 2 percent increase in murder rates.

[A]cademic studies consistently find that background checks have failed to reduce violent crime.

[B]ackground checks have not been successful in stopping criminals from getting guns. 

Many academic studies have failed to produce evidence that background checks on private purchases actually make a difference in reducing violent crimes such as murder and robbery.

[M]urders are 49 percent higher and robberies are 75 percent higher in states with expanded background checks.

Twenty-two of 24 estimates related to changes in the suicide rate and in the murder rate against women and police showed “no change in crimes or suicides as a result of . . . new background checks.” Only two estimates showed statistically significant results. “One showed that states with expanded background checks on transfers had a large increase in police gun deaths. The other showed a relatively miniscule drop in total suicides. But even these results are no longer statistically significant when other factors are taken into account.

The bottom line is that these background checks on private transfers don’t help. Economists, criminologists, and public health researchers have yet to find that the Brady background checks did anything to reduce violent crime. Additional checks aren’t the solution.

How have so-called "universal" background checks worked out in other states? 

In 2015, Oregon enacted a “universal” background check law. After winning an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle in a charity raffle, Rev. Jeremy Lucas, told the Washington Post “that he and his wife then drove it to the home of a parishioner, a ‘responsible gun owner,’ who offered to keep the rifle locked up in a gun safe until the pastor is ready to destroy it.” Lucas, who was openly anti-gun, told the Washington Post he wanted to destroy the gun so there would be “One less gun in the world.” By failing to go through a federally licensed firearms dealer to conduct a background check before transferring the firearm to his parishioner, it seems clear Lucas violated the state’s universal background check law.  After a 5-week investigation state police declined to bring charges against the pastor. 

This troubling case raises serious concerns for New Mexicans considering adopting a similar law:

  • it will tax scarce law enforcement resources;
  • it will cost law-abiding New Mexicans time, money and freedom;
  • it will do nothing to stop criminals. 

Lucas lawyered up and on the advice of his counsel refused to cooperate with investigators. What about law-abiding citizens who run afoul of the law while exercising their constitutional rights and lack the resources to hire an attorney? Will they face charges? 

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.